2011 Maine Water Conference
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Augusta Civic Center, Augusta, Maine
Maine’s Water Resources Research Institute Grants Program: Success Stories
Chair: John Peckenham, Director, Maine Water Resources Research Institute
John M. Peckenham currently serves as the Director of the Maine Water Research Institute and Assistant Director of the Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Environmental and Watershed Research at the University of Maine, where he is a Senior Research Scientist. He is a member of the Governing Board, Maine Sustainability Solutions Initiative. John’s other professional affiliations include Managing Partner of Maine Water Security, LLC, a drinking water security start-up company, and Water Quality Consultant (Maine Certified Geologist). He is a graduate of Bates College (Geology) and Dalhousie University (Geology and Geophysics). His research interests include: drinking water quality and public water supply; natural groundwater contaminants (such as arsenic and antimony); water resource management; remediating contaminated water and soil; and, science education and outreach.
Description: The 54 Water Resources Research Institutes (WRRI) across the US and territories “represent cooperative agreements between public universities and federal and state government that engender lasting partnerships among state universities; federal, state, and local governments; businesses and industries; and non-governmental organizations aimed at solving problems of water supply and water quality at local, state, regional, and national levels”. The Institutes are administered by the US Geological Survey and typically located at land grant universities. Maine’s USGS WRRI is located at the University of Maine’s Mitchell Center. A key focus of the Maine WRRI program is a competitive grant program designed to provide funding for research and information transfer regarding Maine’s water resources. Specifically, the Maine program:
- Sponsors research that addresses water problems or expands understanding of water and water-related phenomena in Maine;
- Aids in the entry of new research scientists into the field;
- Trains future water scientists; and,
- Distributes the results of sponsored research to Maine’s water managers and the public.
This session will feature talks that describe previously-funded or in-progress projects that are part of the WRRI grants program.
Part I. Introduction & Background
Collaboration between U.S. Geological Survey and Water Research Insititutes
Robert Lent, Maine Geological Survey
A Short History of the Maine Water Resources Research Institute
John Peckenham, Director, Maine Water Resources Research Institute
Part II. Recent Successful Projects
Monitoring Contaminant Exposure of Endangered Species: Lethal, Non-lethal and Surrogate Approaches
School of Biology and Ecology, University of Maine, Orono, ME
U.S. Geological Survey, Maine Field Office, University of Maine, Orono, ME
Contaminant monitoring protocols typically require lethal sampling to evaluate the level of exposure and response of the organisms being monitored. This presents particular challenges for endangered and threatened species which cannot be taken lethally. I will present some approaches we have taken to evaluating contaminant exposure and response of Maine Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), a population listed as endangered in the year 2000 and one which comprises the last wild population of this species in the U.S. The presence of multiple stressors in the spawning habitat of this species, and the impending removal of two dams on the Penobscot, the Maine river with the largest migratory run, represent just two of the challenges facing this Distinct Population Segment. I will discuss two approaches we have taken to evaluate contaminant exposure and response in Atlantic salmon: 1) the use of two aquatic toxicology model fish species, zebrafish (Danio rerio) and fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas) to evaluate habitat conditions, and 2) biomarker expression in gills and scales of Atlantic salmon sampled non-lethally. I will present these in the context of specific laboratory and field studies, including evaluating the toxicity of water following re-suspension of Penobscot River sediments (simulating a dam removal) and the use of the biomarker enzyme CYP1A in fish gills and scales. The limitations and benefits of each approach as it relates to resource management and decision making will be discussed. (USGS, Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Environmental & Watershed Research 06HQGR0089).
Changing Climate and Regional Hydrology
Shaleen Jain, Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Maine
Hydrology is closely linked to climate and changes in climate can be detected in hydrologic responses. Research funded in part by the Maine Water Resources Research Institute have been used to analyze stream gage records across the New England region. Patterns of shifting streamflow vary in timing, magnitude and location. Understanding these changes have profound implications for fisheries, recreation, and power generation. This work has leveraged other related research and linkages to other significant findings will be presented. (USGS, Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Environmental & Watershed Research 06HQGR0089).
Spatiotemporal Database Integration of Mercury Research in Maine
Melinda Neville (graduate student), Kate Beard
Spatial Information Science & Engineering, University of Maine
The inland and coastal waters of Maine have been subject to decades of anthropogenic mercury (Hg) loading, but recently, policy changes have been instrumental in lowering regional Hg emissions. Maine-based research efforts have included monitoring Hg in soil, birds, fish, surface water and precipitation. These and other monitoring efforts provide partial views on the affects of decreasing Hg emissions on water quality and ecosystem health, but not a comprehensive picture because of the different spatial and temporal sampling strategies and because of the complexity of Hg fate and transport dynamics. This current WRRI- funded project seeks to collate historic and current Hg research into an integrated spatiotemporal database. The first step of creating the integration framework was to define the spatial and temporal support of the different Hg data sources. Defining the spatial and temporal support of these data illustrates some of the cause-effect and source-sink dynamics of mercury biogeochemistry in a GIS-modeled system. We will discuss the challenges of working with disparate spatiotemporal data, and the applied techniques that facilitate its use in evaluating ecosystem risk and resilience to Hg pollution.